Growing older manifests in many ways. Sometimes in a sports car, chest hair, and strong cologne. In other cases, it means refining a precision aural assault, yet maintaining an energetic visceral rawness. One can assuredly assume that 3-piece grind act, Cloud Rat, has certainly not bought a sports car in recent years.
In September of 2019, the Michigan-based band released their 4th (solo) full-length release, Pollinator, on the Toronto record label, Artoffact Records, to great reviews. Fans of the genre will find satisfying grindcore complexities, more so in the more chaotic contemporary sense of this. There are also clear traditions in screamo and metalcore, crust punk and sludge lingering thick in the midst. Guitarist Rorik Brooks ties a lot of the more melodic elements to 90s-era grunge: “We were listening to a lot of Orchid and stuff, but I think the melodic side of it came more from an 80s and 90s grunge that when blended with extreme stuff, sounds more emotional or melodic. So, also Smashing Pumpkins.”
Within the band’s more recent releases, there also exists a clear sense of exploration. While their previous release, Qliphoth, incorporated experimental elements throughout, Pollinator alludes to them, sifting them out onto the companion EP, Do Not Let Me off the Cliff, which carries purely industrial, ambient, goth moods. Brooks explains, “Especially those splits that we did from 2016-2017, there was a lot of really experimental, at least for us, off the beaten path stuff interspersed throughout, and I think for the full-length we were like ‘Why don’t we just write a real cohesive, at least sonically and thematically, banger of a record, very aggressive for the most part, rather than lose that momentum?’ Not necessarily lose that momentum, but sometimes it’s pretty hard to thread that needle.”
This album likewise presents a striking potential for the band to blossom further with age and further contemplation, which is sure to continue in their lyrical decision-making going forward. Brooks says that the band used to talk a lot more on stage and in interviews about political things. “Nowadays, I maybe still feel mostly the same, but also I’m less 100% sure about what is right and wrong.”
What is clearly right with the band remains the strong cohesion between the unpolished clarity of Brooks guitar, the rapid-fire precision strikes of drummer, Brandon Hill, and the unrelenting delivery of, vocalist, Madison Marshall’s referential lyrics. This is the sound of an anarchic, DIY, “fuck-everything” attitude maturing into a beautifully abrasive swirl of colour and frenzy. Perhaps this is more akin to an aging process manifest in shopping for abstract art, and then admiring the graffiti left on your garage door upon arriving home.